The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal, a federal lawsuit, and claims of self-dealing and lucrative, backroom deals. The church also is experiencing historic lows when it comes to evangelism and church planting.
But one man says he’ll reform the SBC. And if he wins his bid to be SBC president, he’ll have the power to do it.
On this episode of The Roys Report, Julie speaks with Randy Adams, one of four candidates vying to be president of the SBC—the largest, Protestant denomination in the country.
Adams has been outspoken about what’s wrong with the SBC. And on this podcast, he doesn’t hold back, but instead details the corruption, secrecy, and protection of men at the top that he says needs to stop.
If you care about reform and the future of the church, you’re not going to want to miss this interview!
RANDY ADAMS, JULIE ROYS
JULIE ROYS 00:00
The Southern Baptist Convention has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal, a federal lawsuit, and claims of self dealing and lucrative backroom deals. But one man says he’ll reform the SBC. And if he wins this summer’s election, he’ll have the power to do it. Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And joining me today is Randy Adams. Randy is the executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention. He’s also one of four candidates vying to be the president of the largest Protestant denomination in the country, the Southern Baptist Convention or SPC. Randy’s put out a bold statement on his website, saying that if he wins election, he’ll put the SBC house in order. And Randy did something that’s almost unheard of. He actually called out the problems in the SBC, naming specific examples of organized corruption and lack of transparency. Friends, that takes guts! And so I’m super interested in speaking with Randy and learning more about his plan to reform the SBC. But before we dive into our discussion, I’d like to take a minute to thank our sponsors, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson is a top ranked Christian university providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. And you can choose from more than 60 majors and learn in a Christian community known for its spiritual values, leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shape the world. For more information, just go to Judsonu.edu. Also if you’re in the market for a car I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity and transparency. That’s because the owners there, Dan and Kurt Marquardt, are men of character. To check them out, just go to buyacar123.com. Well, again, joining me is Randy Adams, Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention and one of four candidates vying to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention. So Randy, welcome. It’s a pleasure to have you join me.
RANDY ADAMS 02:05
Thank you, Julie. It’s a pleasure to join you.
JULIE ROYS 02:08
Well Randy, we’re gonna get into many of the issues that you named in your acceptance of the nomination to be SBC president, but I’d like to start with addressing what is probably the hottest issue in the SBC right now. And that’s the statement denouncing critical race theory. As I understand it, Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he was a shoo in to be the SBC president. But then he and five other SBC seminary presidents signed this document. And this infuriated some African American pastors and some, like pastor Dwight McKissic, have actually left the SBC over this issue. Would you explain the controversy and where you stand on the issue?
RANDY ADAMS 02:49
Sure. Southern Baptists have a very complicated and dark history in some ways, in that we were founded in the midst of slavery in 1845. Southern Baptists were a missionary people. And despite that sin of slavery that so many were engaged in, and in 1845, they found their own network of churches, essentially, so that they could send missionaries. So we’ve tried to work our way out of the our sinful and racist past now for, you know, 175 years. And it seems like every time we think we’ve taken a step forward in repentance, and adding black churches, historically black churches into the Southern Baptist fold, it seems like every time we think we’ve made progress, we seem to take a step back. And the most recent is critical race theory. And that is partly embroiled in the political interest. What we’ve been through as a country, over these last few years, in terms of race and politics and whatnot. And so some of our leaders, and Dr. Mohler being one of those, got involved in the political process, meaning the US presidential election process endorsing candidates and whatnot. Which I’ve always felt is a huge mistake. I think it’s better for us to focus on issues and to use biblical language at all times whenever possible. So, personally, I’ve always tried to address the issue of racism from the Bible, and avoid using any type of language that is a red flag to people that automatically cause people to choose sides, or think that you’re in a certain camp when maybe you’re not. I was a pastor for 20 years of a local church. I’ve been the interim pastor of nine churches after you know in my denominational life, and I’ve never endorsed a candidate. I’ve never felt it was it was helpful to do such a thing. I have addressed the issues. And I think when we address issues from the scriptures, we’re on solid ground. But whenever we get into the human personality, that every candidate has, the foibles and the strengths and the weaknesses, we can do harm not only to ourselves, but to the cause of Christ, is my feeling. So I’ve just tried to avoid that. Now, how Southern Baptists as a whole will view that I don’t know, you know. I have political concerns, as we all do, with the direction of our country. And there are ways I think we need to address those as religious leaders, and there are other ways that I think aren’t helpful, and especially aren’t helpful when it comes to accomplishing the mission. You know, I think Southern Baptists were founded to accomplish a mission, the mission of the Great Commission, not to build any kind of political infrastructure Kingdom here in the United States. And we have a global mission. We have thousands of missionaries overseas, you know. That’s what I’m most concerned about is doing the things that strengthens our work to reach people for Jesus, because that’s the only answer that ultimately there is, is Jesus.
JULIE ROYS 05:54
Well, let’s turn our attention to some of the serious concerns that you raised about there being corruption, self dealing, favoritism within the SBC. And I know one of the things just even as we were talking before we started recording today, was you saying, I think people are oblivious, a lot of them, about what’s happened over the past decade. And one of the things that clearly has happened is that the SBC has experienced a really steep decline in evangelistic effectiveness, as you put it. You say that you’re at the low point in your 175 year history. Would you explain why you feel that way?
RANDY ADAMS 06:33
Well, our baptisms in pre pandemic, actually 2019, we’re at the level we were at in in 1938. So the four lowest years of baptisms since World War II have been the last four years. Our church plant numbers are the lowest we’ve ever seen in our lifetime. And so what I meant when I said, we’re at the worst and lowest point we’ve been in in our 175 year history, is that never in our history have we seen a decline like we have in the last decade. The last decade has been one of steep decline. And that’s never happened in Southern Baptist life. We had a more mild decline in the first decade of the 21st century, but it really steepened in 2010. And I think it did largely because we took a different direction, which was more of a top down nationalized control. We emphasize sending more money to the national entities and keeping less money at the local level. More power and authority was transferred to the national when it came to church planting in North America. And I think it was a huge mistake. I think you should always keep decision making and resources as much as possible, close to the field of ministry. Empowering those who actually do the work of missions on their own field, and deferring to them when you can, always. And we’ve, we’ve opted for a different strategy in which decisions are made out of a national entity for the entirety of North America essentially. And that’s especially when it comes to distribution of resources, distribution of resources are determined at the national level far more than they were 10 years ago.
JULIE ROYS 08:14
And you say that the church planning budget has grown from 22 million to 75 million in less than 10 years. So if what you’re saying is true, we’re seeing a huge, I mean, almost three times, actually more than three times the budget being spent on church planting. And yet, you’re saying it’s actually having less effectiveness.
RANDY ADAMS 08:38
And by the way, my numbers come right out of the Southern Baptist annual reports. So one easy way to understand it is, the customer for the North American mission board, was the state convention and the local Association, and then the customer for the for the local Association, the state convention were the local churches. Now that I think was a much better way to do it, because that the local director of missions and even local state convention staff, we know pastors by name and by sight. We know the town’s somewhat. We don’t know them as well as the pastor does in his town. But we know them certainly better than the leaders of a national entity know them. So what happened was most of the resources for church planting and evangelism flowed through NAMB to the local state convention and the local associations. And then we would work with local churches and pastors, on strategies and ways to start churches and to do evangelism. Currently, the evangelism budget was slashed greatly. Most of the cut was in the form of personnel that were being funded across the country. And the church planting budget increased greatly. Now, how much of that $70 million actually gets to the church planter is a question. One of the things I’ve called for is transparency in finances because we really don’t know how that money is being applied. We have no idea. We know the lump sum number of what’s been spent in the course of the year. But how that money has been applied, we don’t know. What we do know is we were starting 1300-1400 churches a year, 10 to 20 years ago, and that number dropped in 2019 to 552. So not only have our baptisms sunk to our lowest, our church plant numbers. Four lowest years pre pandemic were the last four years of many, many decades. Even though we were spending far more money. So spending far more money and getting far less for it, I think shows that when it’s a nationalized strategy, and when the decisions are made at the national level, they don’t really know how to apply those resources. And it’s not just the money, it’s the relationships. At the local level, we have relationships with each other, we know each other, you know, and that can’t be true nationally.
JULIE ROYS 10:54
And also, there seems to be maybe some self dealing and some favoritism involved. You called out something in specific about an SBC church planter who, in July 2020, received a church loan from the North American mission board to purchase a building. Then the board gave the church a $175,000 gift to remodel the church building. Would you talk about some of the self dealing and helping out our friends and maybe lining our own pockets at the same time?
RANDY ADAMS 11:25
Sure. Yeah, we’ve had a number of things in the last year. The first and the biggest was probably the million dollar gift that was given to the outgoing president of LifeWay by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Just him and a VP at LifeWay. No other trustee knew it. The compensation committee didn’t know it. However, the trustee Chairman who gave the former president a million dollars, had three book deals with LifeWay. So in a very compromised situation, it does seem like self dealing. How do you answer that when you do that? Now on the church plant question that you ask, that money for that particular church planter, the reason we we came to know that, is because he publicly left the SBC. He wrote a letter describing why he was leaving Southern Baptist. In his letter, he revealed the North American mission board had given him a loan to buy the church building they were in, and the grant or the gift of $175,000, to remodel the building. And he’s not, to my understanding, giving that money back. So he said that Southern Baptist had been very good to him. But in spite of that, he was going to leave Southern Baptist. Now, when he mentioned the $175,000 gift, we also learned that his sponsoring church was Blueprint Church. And the pastor of Blueprint is also the Vice President for NAMB for the SEND network, which is really odd. I mean, because the SEND network is the church planting network of NAMB. Again, the budget 75 million. But the leader of that network is bi-vocational; he’s a pastor. And it was his church plant that got the $175,000 grant. And what we think we see across the country is that the church plants that get houses sometimes bought for their use, and significant grants, are those who are well connected. Either well connected to an influential pastor, or well connected to influential employees at the North American Mission Board. There is a lot of self dealing there we know it. Again, how that 70 million or whatever they spent last year in church planning is applied, we don’t know. But what we do know is that there are 10s of millions of dollars. And I don’t know the exact number, but it’s a big number. It’s north of 10 million. It may be 30 million. That is at the discretion of the leaders of NAMB in terms of how they spend it. So to give you an example, in November, every church planter funded by the North American Mission Board, received a $5,000 gift. Some received that as a personal gift. For some it went into their church planting budget. It’s however the sending church, the sponsoring church, determined to give that money. Well that’s millions of dollars.
JULIE ROYS 14:14
Wait some took it as a personal gift?
RANDY ADAMS 14:17
That’s what I understand that it was given to them personally by the sending church as a gift. And it was the the rationale for it was this has been a hard year, the pandemic years has been a hard year. And I’ve talked to church planters. It was not clear as to whether the $5000 should go into the church planning budget, or whether it should go as a personal gift to the church planter. So it seems, and this comes back again to transparency and financial accountability, who determined and how is it determined whether the money go is a personal gift or a gift to the church planting budget? We don’t really know. We have anecdotal evidence on that from church planters.
JULIE ROYS 14:56
Wow! So you have $70 million. You’re saying there’s no line item budget that’s released?
RANDY ADAMS 15:02
Correct. In the Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention that’s published every year there’s no line item budget. The total budget for NAMB is over $120 million. But the church planting side of that is $75 million. Now they actually reduced it. I’ve seen in their most recent budget, to $72 million. But that’s all we get. And then we get how much of that was actually spent. So in 2019, I believe the money spent was $66.8 million? But we don’t know how that money was applied.
JULIE ROYS 15:34
And that’s, that’s shocking to me that they can operate that way. That they are not more transparent. But from what I’m understanding, there’s a lack of transparency, not just in NAMB, though, the whole Southern Baptist Convention. And I know there’s been things with the executive committee even where there’s been lack of transparency and really reporting what’s going on, what executives are making. What you said about LifeWay CEO, Tom Rayner, when he went out getting this million dollar sweetheart deal, and only the chairman of the trustees okaying that? I mean, these things are, are really stunning. And I guess I there’s ways that good people, or bad people in those situations can pervert things. But it also sounds like I mean, well, how is it set up, that, you know, the bylaws don’t stipulate more transparency? That that there isn’t something written into the way the SBC operates and does it need that kind of reform where, Hey, let’s go back. We need to rewrite things so that there’s more reporting, and more specifics about what executives are getting paid and, and what their retirement deals are all of that. Do you think that needs to happen?
RANDY ADAMS 16:44
Absolutely, absolutely. You’ve seen in your own reporting over the years how trustee boards can fail, in bringing accountability to leaders and whatnot. And often that happens, because there’s friendship there. There is self dealing there. There’s a scratch your back, I’ll scratch you know that that type of thing going on. And that’s happening in our boards. No question about it. People know it. It’s been admitted. It certainly happened at LifeWay. The thing that I find remarkable is, though the chairman had three book contracts, which is conflict of interest, it should have meant that he was automatically removed from the board. He wasn’t and he still isn’t. He still sits on that board. But with that kind of interest involved in friendship with the president, and then give the president the million dollar deal, plus other benefits going out the door – it’s absolutely shocking. Now, what our Southern Baptist Executive Committee would say, is that they can’t do much, because the entities are led by the boards. What I’ve said is, it shouldn’t be that way. Two things: One, we need to bring transparency so that there can be accountability, and things like this don’t happen. And we need to train our trustees differently. So that they understand their job is to protect the churches, and work on behalf of the churches, not the entity. They’re there to hold the entity and the entity leaders accountable. Not to become their best friends and promoters and protectors. I also think that the executive committee of the SBC, through whom all the money flows to these national entities, they need to take a much more aggressive role in holding the entities accountable. And that’s why I’ve called for a forensic financial audit. That it ought to be demanded. Now, the EC, the executive committee of the SBC, I think they don’t know whether they have the authority to command or demand a forensic audit, but they can certainly call for it publicly, at the very least. And they can cut off funding if they choose. They can recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention that funding be reduced to an entity
JULIE ROYS 18:58
That’ll get their attention for sure if you cut off the funds!
RANDY ADAMS 19:02
Well, I think it would. Now, LifeWay doesn’t receive cooperative program funds. But North American Mission Board does and all the other entities do. You know, these are mission dollars, that’s my thing. These are dollars that retired people and you know, people in the pew from across the country have given, to reach people for Jesus. They’re mission dollars. And for an entity leader, or an entity to use mission dollars to pay their friends,to give gifts to people, that is just abominable to me. I think it’s horrible.
JULIE ROYS 19:36
And yet it’s happening all throughout the Evangelical Church. You know, I see it with the organizations I’ve reported on for sure. Where the boards I mean, just this week, it came up with Franklin Graham was in the news and his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has family members on it. The Samaritan’s Purse, where he’s also the CEO, has family members on it. We know that in 2015 I think It was when the last time it was reported, he was making over a million dollars in compensation with both of those organizations. And yet, when you bring that up, people don’t want to talk about it. I’m just I’m shocked that more evangelicals aren’t exercised by this. That more Southern Baptists who are tithing to their local churches aren’t exercised by this. I mean, what what is going on in the church, where people give their money blindly to organizations, and then don’t really seem to care what happens to it?
RANDY ADAMS 20:31
I don’t know. I’ve said, Baptists have been doing this for 100 years. The cooperative program. We have a high trust system. We’ve developed a system that has been really, really great in so many ways, because we’ve maintained consistent funding for our missionaries, for our seminary students, for the ministry we do. And it’s a great system. I believe in that system. The deficiency in the system is that it’s hard to bring correction when things go awry. So for example, if I was an entity leader right now, and and we had one of our entity leaders receive a million dollars going out the door, and all of the the pain that that brought, I don’t know why they aren’t saying, Hey, do a forensic audit of my entity, you know? And I would say, well why not? Why, why aren’t they asking for that? Why wouldn’t our SBC leaders and entity leaders ask for that type of audit? Another thing that is used often to keep to suppress information or non disclosure agreements.
JULIE ROYS 21:37
RANDY ADAMS 21:38
That’s rampant. I mean, that is a standard operating procedure when they lay people off for financial reasons. Like under during an COVID. The standard thing is to have everyone signed an NDA. They’ll get a little extra money if they do it. But they also silence themselves. When the International Mission Board went through what they did several years ago and reduced our missionary force by about 1100 missionaries, it was one of the most painful things we’ve ever gone through. But to get the benefits of the early retirement offers, they had to sign nondisclosure agreements. NAMB uses non disclosure agreements just as a regular standard operating practice. And so I think that’s wrong as well. I have never asked a person to sign an NDA. And I’m not saying there aren’t occasions perhaps where they’re appropriate. They there there are, I’m sure. But we use those as just a standard practice to purchase the silence of people. And I just think it’s wrong.
JULIE ROYS 22:39
And it seems to indicate that we have something to hide. I know I had somebody work, do some contract work on my website. And I remember he said, Oh, do you want me to sign an NDA? Because I guess that’s standard when he does stuff like this. And I said, Listen, if I didn’t trust you, I wouldn’t be hiring you. And if I have something to hide, then I’m in the wrong business. So no, there will never be an NDA in this organization. I just I don’t believe in them. I think they’re, they’re used to support evil ends, and they just should be outlawed. Would you outlaw, I mean, I don’t know if the SBC president has any room to do this. But would you outlaw NDAs if you were president?
RANDY ADAMS 23:16
Well, I don’t know if the President has that power. But I would call for an ending. And I think everyone who signed an NDA, unless there’s some really, really good reason to protect the victim or something that could be given, they ought to be released from their NDA. Yes. And I would call for that release people from their NDA. Let people speak, if they choose to do so. Why, you know, why should we be afraid? Why would anyone be afraid of the truth? If you’re afraid of the truth, you’re on the wrong side of the truth. You know. If you if if silence and keeping the truth from Southern Baptist is your best brand, then you have a bad friend. Because in the end, people will know the truth, and those who suppress the truth, it won’t go well with them. In my convention, if a pastor asked me, Randy, I want to know exactly how much money you make, I would tell him. We have a salary schedule of for every position that we have, so they can know the range for every position. But you know, I’m their employee, these entity leaders in these entities, they are the employees of Southern Baptists. And why why shouldn’t Southern Baptist know what their salaries are? Why shouldn’t they know how the money’s been allocated specifically? I think they should. And I think if people don’t want that to happen, the question is why? You know, why would you want secrecy? Why should those of us who try to be you know, messengers of the light, want to operate in the dark? It’s just wrong.
JULIE ROYS 24:48
So could anybody ask you how much you make?
RANDY ADAMS 24:50
Yeah. I mean, I probably tell anybody, you know. I certainly have an obligation I feel, to tell our churches. And of course, once you start telling the churches you’ve told the world, which is fine. But, you know, they all know the range. But I mean, personally, I don’t have a problem. But I certainly think that people who pay my salary, which is the Churches of the Northwest, because I’m not paid by Southern Baptist. I don’t receive money through the SBC for my salary. It comes directly from the Northwest Churches.
JULIE ROYS 25:21
Well, we’ve done the same thing. In fact, we published our financial statement. If you go to our Donate page at JulieRoys.com, you can see it right there. It’s all listed. This is how much I make. How much I made last year. It’s all there because I feel like people give money, they have a right to know and we who are supported by donations have an obligation to the donors. And for some reason we’ve we’ve lost that in so many of these entities. There’s there’s one other, well, it’s actually a couple other things I wanted to get into. But one is a little bit technical. And I don’t want to get technical about it. But it is a huge lawsuit that involved not just the North American Missions Board, but also the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the ERLC. And they’re arguing in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, something about SBC hierarchy. And it’s my understanding that what they’re arguing is actually the exact opposite of how SBC has said that it operates. And it also will open the SBC up to all sorts of liability involving the sex abuse cases, if they say that they have this kind of control over local churches. Because then all of a sudden, everything that local churches have done wrong, will be applied to the SBC. So tell us just, if you can, just the broad outlines for those who don’t know, at all what’s going on with that case? What’s at stake there?
RANDY ADAMS 26:46
Sure, Southern Baptists are not a denomination, like, say, Methodists or Roman Catholic or something like that. We’re not hierarchial. Every church is autonomous. Every church is independent. Every convention and association is autonomous. So we don’t have a hierarchy in our system. Every church calls his own pastor. Every association or convention hires its own people. The SBC has no power over us. And however, in a lawsuit filed against the North American Mission Board, the North American Mission Board has argued in that lawsuit, that and they’ve done this, as you said, before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. They lost their argument before the Fifth Circuit, and now they say they’re going to take it to the US Supreme Court. So this is a really big deal. North American Mission Board argued that they have absolute rights and privileges over state conventions, if they provide any money to or through those state conventions. And therefore, they have a right to interfere in the employment practices of state conventions. They use the term ‘supporting organization’ that they are a supporting organization of a state convention, and therefore if they are, they have a right to interfere. Now, the ERLC the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission filed an amicus brief on behalf of NAMB in this lawsuit, in which they actually use the word ‘hierarchy’. They said that the Southern Baptist Convention is a hierarchy or has a hierarchy and that the SBC is the umbrella organization over all of the churches and conventions and associations. Exactly contrary to what the bylaws of the SBC say. They’re they’re totally wrong on that. They have since admitted that they were wrong. They said they were rushed, and therefore they used poor language or a poor argument, because they were rushed. I think that everyone finds that laughable because you don’t rush into saying something like that. You know, you make grammatical errors when you rush. But you don’t make that type of error in legal argument when you rush. So anyway, but we still haven’t discovered whether or not they’ve tried to correct their argument with the courts, if that’s even possible.
JULIE ROYS 29:04
I mean, if they correct it, then they lose their case. Because I understand what’s at stake here is whether or not them essentially putting pressure on a convention to fire is Will McRainey is the person at the center of this. Whether or not putting pressure on the convention to fire him. This is more of a regional type body that fired him. That was legitimate to do and the only way they can argue that it was legitimate to do that is to say that they have legitimate control over these regional bodies.
RANDY ADAMS 29:33
JULIE ROYS 29:34
But yeah, I mean, they’re kind of in a catch 22. Either they admit they did the wrong thing. Or they argue what they have argued so far, which that could open a real can of worms, especially when it comes to and, you know, maybe we’ll move to this now but the sex abuse scandal that was reported by the Houston Chronicle. Hundreds of churches over decades, covering up for sexual abusers within the Church, and a lot of this happening at SBC local churches. If the SBC is going to argue that it has control, and that this control goes down all the way to the local level, can then that opened up the denomination to be sued by these local churches where there are a lot of victims who are angry because their abusers were protected by the church leaders at their local church? Is that where we could head?
RANDY ADAMS 30:25
Yes, that is the question. I think you’ve identified exactly what the issue is. That if NAMS’ argument prevails, and the ERLC’s argument prevails in the McRainey case, it could open up SBC churches, and associations and state conventions to exactly what you’re describing. That would be a huge problem. Now, our leaders. I remember asking this question years ago of an attorney that worked for the executive committee, and he said, Randy, you don’t have anything to worry about. We don’t have anything to worry about. Southern Baptists would never put up with an entity assuming or claiming hierarchy or control over churches or a state convention. To which I said, We’re not talking about arguing this before the court of Southern Baptists. We’re talking about arguing this before state and federal courts. Which now, exactly what I said years ago, has happened. It’s gone to the Fifth Circuit Court. It could go to the Supreme Court. And it could present exactly the kind of problem that that you’re suggesting. It’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous.
JULIE ROYS 31:27
Well, since we’ve started talking about the sex abuse scandal, one of the most baffling stories that I’ve reported on this past year, has been the Summit Church, headed by JD Greer, who’s currently the president of the SBC, hiring Brian Loritts, who has a history and had allegations concerning him that he had covered up sex crimes at a previous church he was at. In June, I started looking into this at the urging of some of the victims of that church. Brian Loritts, again, it was his brother-in-law, Rick Trotter, who was found to be recording women without their knowledge and men and possibly children, in the church bathroom. And the phone was discovered, given to Brian, he admits he took it home overnight. He says the next day he gave it to a pastor at the church. Actually, initially, he said he gave it to an elder. Now he says he gave it to a pastor. Somehow this phone has completely disappeared. He says he directed the church to report his brother-in-law to police. Memphis Police say they never got any report. And then we know Rick Trotter, his brother-in-law, went on to go to another church where he repeated his crimes until he was finally found guilty of several cases of voyeurism and went to jail. But this is just unbelievable! We have we have eyewitnesses who who talked about this. I reported it in addition to the fact that Brian Loritts, he claims to have a doctorate, which it’s only an honorary doctorate. And when you look into it, it’s from a bogus school. The president of the school doesn’t even have a doctorate. He claims he does. But I looked into it and found out that the school where he says, he got it, he says he got it from Texas Christian University, I reached out to Texas Christian, they’re like, No, he’s never been a student here. So I mean, completely bogus school, completely bogus setup. I reported that again, back in back in June. And it was very clear what had happened there. And for seven months, Summit stood by their statement. Stood behind Loritts and did nothing. And then recently, JD Greer has said, We failed, we should have done an independent investigation. And so now they’re launching an independent investigation. This whole thing is is kind of made my head spin. One, that it took him seven months. But also, what on earth has prompted this now? And what are we to make of it? And I think it’s done such damage to the survivor community, they don’t trust the SBC to ever take care of them after this situation. Do you have any idea what prompted this independent investigation? Right now? Seven months after?
RANDY ADAMS 34:10
You know, I don’t. I’m familiar enough with what’s happened to know that he’s probably received a lot of pressure, and rightly so, to do this. But why now? I really don’t know. I don’t know him. I can say a couple of things about that. One, I’ve only fortunately/unfortunately had to deal with this personally one time, where I had an employee who committed acts of immorality. Nothing that we know of that was illegal. It was immorality; it was unfaithfulness in his marriage. His spouse caught him and made him call me and resign, and that’s what he did. He resigned on the spot. And what I did is I emailed all of our churches and told them that he resigned for marital unfaithfulness and I made clear, it was multiple infidelities. It wasn’t one. I wanted them all to know that. And then we also put that in our magazine. And we reported that he had resigned. And we reported why he resigned. And I told our board and everyone who asked that the reason we did it that way, and I chose to do it that way, is I wanted to leave a track record. He hadn’t, he wasn’t arrested for anything. But I wanted to leave a record for anyone who, if he sought a ministry type job or working with children, or whatever else it might be, I don’t know, anyone who would want to know, they’d be able to find it with an internet search. Plus, all of our pastors would know it. So I just think in general, the church, and I know too many examples of this, where they have let sexual offenders, whether it involve laws or not, since we don’t have adultery laws any longer in most states, I guess. No one enforces those that we’ve let people go quietly. And then they go to another church, and they offend in another church. And that has happened, as we know, forever. And I just think that has to end and so, so that’s the way I’ve chosen to handle it, is expose the offender. And then in the larger SBC family, our polity of nonconnectionalism is a problem for us in that because our national entity cannot demand of churches that they turn in offenders. But I have thought about this some and I think that what we need is a national database.
JULIE ROYS 36:34
RANDY ADAMS 36:36
Yeah, in which not just Southern Baptists, but all denominational groups and Christian organizations participate in this national database. Because and you probably seen this, what sometimes an offender will do is go from one group to another, one denomination to another. And certainly in Southern Baptist life in an evangelical life that happens, you know, between EV Frees and you know, all the different Baptist groups out there and whatnot, are independent churches, people migrate from one group to another. So I think we need some type of system that is broader, and encompasses more than just one denomination.
JULIE ROYS 37:12
Well, I know that’s going to be music to the ears of a lot of sex abuse victims, survivors and their allies that are listening, because I think that’s something that desperately needs to happen. And I know, some groups have started doing that sort of on a volunteer basis, just putting together a database, but to have the SBC really get behind doing something like that, and even bringing in other denominations would be so helpful. Because again, that’s one of the beauties of the Evangelical Church, is that it’s such a loose coalition in a way. But also one of its weaknesses, that there’s we have no magisteria. And we have no one that’s going to bring correction sometimes when where there needs to be or call out offenders. So I think that’s huge. So thanks for standing behind that. I appreciate it.
RANDY ADAMS 37:57
Absolutely. Well, that’s why we it’s so important that our leaders have integrity. But not just integrity, accountability, because we are human beings. And we have friendships, and sometimes friendships get in the way of doing the right thing if we’re not careful. And therefore we have to have accountability in our systems. What initially got me into this was the failure in our mission, the failure in sending more missionaries and starting more churches and more baptisms. But then as I saw what was happening, I thought, Well, one of the chief reasons I think we’re failing is this whole area of transparency and accountability and lack of trust. Because all of these things, I mean, nonprofits, we really, we have trust and goodwill. And if we lose trust or goodwill with the people, we’ve lost the things that are most precious to us. I mean, we’ve lost our ministry. Everything we’ve been talking about, I think, goes toward building or undermining trust and goodwill for the people that we serve.
JULIE ROYS 38:58
Well, I so appreciate your heart, which comes across very clearly, and your desire and conviction to see corruption rooted out in the SBC. To see there be more transparency. You You do have, as I mentioned, I think an uphill battle. Al Mohler is also running for president, who is a heavy hitter. I haven’t mentioned Mike Stone, who is a Georgia pastor, also, former chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, and Ed Litton, who has a good track record, it looks like on bringing racial reconciliation. I will say this, though. It’s kind of nice. And I think the time has been right to see someone who’s a little bit of an outsider within the SBC, and I’m not SBC. I’m not Southern Baptist, but from what I’ve seen, if these sorts of things are going to be cleaned up, they’re not going to be cleaned up from somebody who’s well connected and on the inside. So I think you bring a perspective that’s really needed and I wish you well and I just I pray that God will use your efforts, whether you end up becoming president, or you just have a chance to bring these issues to the fore by having a platform, I hope it spurs some reforms. So thank you. I appreciate it.
RANDY ADAMS 40:11
Thank you, Julie. And thank you for what you do. And you’ve been a heroic, courageous champion in so many ways in the evangelical world, exposing wrongdoing and bringing correction where correction needs to be brought in. I know it’s not been easy for you, I’m certain at times you’ve been attacked yourself
JULIE ROYS 40:31
A little bit.
RANDY ADAMS 40:33
So thank you for doing that. I’ve learned that there is not so much courage. A lot of fear, among some. Fear of retribution, fear of losing position, or perks or whatever it might be, and less courage than there needs to be. Even in high levels of leadership in the Christian world. And that’s a real disappointment. And I think we need courageous people. You’re certainly one of those. So thank you.
JULIE ROYS 40:59
Well, thank you for your kind words. I appreciate that.
RANDY ADAMS 41:02
You’re welcome. I mean them.
JULIE ROYS 41:04
Oh, thank you. And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. If you’d like to find me online, just go to JulieRoys.com. Also, make sure you subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts or Google podcasts. That way, you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review, and then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you have a great day and God bless.